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Bristol City FC statement - Bailey Wright

Bristol City Football Club has released a statement, following news that Bailey Wright has been found guilty of simulation and banned for two games with immediate effect.

We were hugely surprised by the decision of The FA overturn the red card shown to Fulham’s Aboubakar Kamara on Tuesday night, but for The FA to then compound that by suspending Bailey for two matches is extremely disappointing.

We were notified that a charge had been brought against Bailey for “successful deception of a match official” late on Thursday and given 24 hours to provide a response – right in the crucial window of preparation for our noon kick-off with Cardiff City at Ashton Gate.

On receiving the charge, the information provided to us was extremely limited. The club was informed that a three-person panel, comprising former players, managers and referees, had concluded based on a review of video evidence of the incident, that an act of simulation had been committed by Bailey.

The FA guidance on which the panel was asked to determine whether an act of simulation has taken place gives the panel five questions that they must consider. The panel is advised in the guidance that they can only find a player guilty of simulation where there is “clear and overwhelming evidence” of simulation based on the answers to such questions. The questions are:

  1. Is there contact between the players involved?
  2. Is there fair/normal contact between the players, resulting in no offence being committed?
  3. Is a player legitimately avoiding contact with his opponent to prevent injury?
  4. Has the player initiated the contact between his opponent and himself in order to deceive the referee?
  5. Does the player exaggerate the effect of a normal contact challenge in order to deceive the referee?

We have, regrettably, not been provided with any information as to the conclusions drawn by the panel by reference to the five questions but the club’s position is that the only possible question that is applicable in this case is question 5. As stated, Bailey did not exaggerate the effects of the contact and the contact cannot be considered “normal” – it is both excessive and also occurred when play had been halted for some time. To suggest this is a “normal contact challenge” is astonishing.

The FA also concluded as part of the charge against Bailey that the alleged simulation had deceived the match referee, leading to the sending off of an opponent, however, no explanation was provided as to the basis of this finding.

Our legal team prepared a detailed response with Bailey, along with video evidence that clearly shows Aboubakar Kamara charging into Bailey with his hands raised in which the club and Bailey maintained that there was no simulation by the player. The force of the contact caused Bailey to lose balance and fall to the ground, landing awkwardly on his neck and back. In no way did Bailey exaggerate his reaction and neither did he approach or complain to the referee about Kamara, asking for the Fulham player to be dismissed.

The club and Bailey are disappointed that that position has seemingly been disregarded by both the panel and the Regulatory Commission and Bailey has been found guilty without ever seeing any evidence of how his actions are alleged to have deceived the referee.

The rules also state that neither the club nor Bailey has any right of appeal and the club is now without a key player for two games, starting with the Severnside derby that is less than 24 hours away.

In addition, we will not receive the full written reasoning from the Regulatory Commission until after the weekend. Given this affects an important Sky Bet Championship match, we find it very disappointing that The FA is unable to release to us the minutes of the Regulatory Commission’s meeting and the full reasoning behind their decision today.

Bristol City Football Club fully supports The FA’s attempts to stamp our simulation to protect the fairness and reputation of the game. However, it is quite clear from all the evidence that this case does not fall within the scope of the offence of “the successful deception of a match official”.

This is a clear case in which there has been genuine contact between two players, which has caused Bailey to fall to the ground involuntarily and he has made no attempt to deceive the referee whatsoever.

On finally receiving the full written reasoning next week, we will be consulting our legal team once more to discuss the options available.

In the meantime we will be without Bailey for tomorrow’s Severnside derby with Cardiff, which is a clear injustice against Bailey, the team, the club and its loyal supporters.

I can assure you Lee, the coaching staff and our playing squad will be doing everything in their power to win the match for Bailey and your support will be crucial in that.

Mark Ashton
Chief executive officer

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